Mario Matteoli
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Mario Matteoli

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"Mario Matteoli"

When the Weary Boys rolled through Lawrence a year ago, the band made quite an impression with its crowd-pleasing concoction of Sun Records country, old-timey busking and Cajun fiddling. Since then, bandleader Mario Matteoli has gone solo, trading in his former band's electrifying rumpus for the pensive balladry of his idols Townes Van Zandt and Doug Sahm. That doesn't mean Matteoli's performances are any less fun; they're just aging gracefully toward the Willie Nelson end of the spectrum (minus 50 years and a shit-ton of pot). He'll bring a hot-licking band along for his eponymous Kansas City debut.

By Richard Gintowt
Published: January 10, 2008 - The Pitch Kansas City

"Mario Matteoli"

am+e: How’s it been going as a solo artist?
mm: Pretty good. Just played in Phoenix last
night, doing my first solo tour up through California
and back. I’m doing some shows solo acoustic,
but I’ve been playing the Continental Club with a
band. I don’t really hear too much of the ‘miss the
Weary Boys’ attitude.
am+e: Why did you leave the Weary Boys?
mm: In January it just kind of came to a head,
I guess. We’d been touring with each other for
about seven years and got a little tired of each
other. We’d become a little creatively bankrupt.
It seemed like I was starting to step on people’s
toes, and I’d rather quit than become an enemy.
We’re all still friends.
am+e: What is the next step for you?
mm: I’m kind of trying to figure that out, really. I’ve
been waiting on some record label interest, but
I’m at the point where I might record another one
by myself again. You don’t really need a record
label to put out a record, and I definitely have
enough material for one. The new stuff is pretty
much in the same vein as Hard Luck Hittin’, but
maybe a little more upbeat and rockin’. I might
add some electric guitars.
am+e: How has living in Austin influenced you
as a songwriter and guitarist?
mm: It really got my chops up. I was playing in a
country band, so I really had to get my skills together
just to play in Austin with so many guitar players
here. As far as songwriting, I got turned on to a lot
of people in Austin who you don’t necessarily hear
about anywhere else — Townes Van Zandt, Doug
Sahm. I’m sure it has affected my style.
am+e: How do you feel about closing out the
ACL festival this year on the BMI stage?
mm: Sounds good to me. I played with the Wearies
in the first festival and then again two years ago.
That time we played in a gospel tent. Great show;
it was packed. I’ve never played the BMI stage.
It’s gonna be cool, probably the best gig I’ve had
all year. Everyone keeps congratulating me on it
and they seem to be impressed, so I guess it’s a
great thing. It certainly helps with prestige. am+e

Sept/Oct. '07 Issue 11 - Austin Music & Entertainment Magazine

"Mario Matteoli"

He's been the most notable of the Weary Boys' songwriters, but on his solo debut, Mario Matteoli steps away from his ATXer's three chords and a cloud of dust for more introspective fare. The nine originals on Hard Luck Hittin' aren't even close to the Weary's bluegrassy racket but rather rummage around the acoustic solitude of Neil Young or the depressed world spun by Townes Van Zandt. Matteoli even takes a stab at Dylan-esque on the title track, a tune about being down and out with even more darkness on the horizon. While hard times inform most of Hard Luck Hittin', Matteoli's way with clean, simple melodies saves the day. That and his supporters: Matt Hubbard on keyboards, guitarist Mark Ambrose, and Charles Ozanian on drums, who provide effective backing that comes closer to country music's early days than today's singer-songwriter pretentiousness. Whether railing at politicians ("Hope in Nothing"), kissing off a girlfriend ("Happy Birthday From Wyoming"), or grappling with life's many uncertainties ("Sun Keeps Beatin' Down"), Matteoli's youthful talent for summoning up a sound that's both slyly thoughtful and markedly tuneful is anything but hard luck.

By Jim Caligiuri, November 3, 2006 - The Austin Chronicle

"The Weary Boys 'Jumpin' Jolie' (self-released) Mario Matteoli 'Hard Luck Hittin' (self-released)"

The Weary Boys haven't got a clue. Thank God. This five-member bluegrass group doesn't know what it is (except that it's not a bluegrass group). But even as the young Austinites soak up all sorts of Cajun protons and rockabilly neutrons floating around, the Boys also embrace Technicolor crooning and backwoods duets without coming off as gimmicky genre-hurdlers.

Credit inventive, observational songwriting and a far-from-weary backing band that gets to the heart of such stunning Mario Matteoli originals as the title track — with its deliciously greasy groove — the bittersweet pop of "Drink On It" and the intoxicating, revelatory "California Sunset."

But not everything rises from the mundane on "Jumpin' Jolie," which was produced mostly by Rick Miller of Southern Culture on the Skids (though three of the best tracks were helmed by Matt Hubbard at Pedernales). Covers of "Vaya Con Dios" and "Jambalaya" are pointless, and "Baby Have No Fun," written by Scott Biram, sounds like ordinary bar fare circa 1985.

The Weary Boys don't sound like they obsessed over this album, their fifth. They went for an overall feel, which has its holes. As a whole, though, "Jumpin' Jolie" is a fun romp with a few songs that will resonate after the party's over.

"Jolie" is a nice setup for Matteoli's first solo record, "Hard Luck Hittin'," which adds drippy keyboards and hitchhiker harmonica to the mix. It's a wonderfully reflective and — bonus! — richly melodic album that finds a 25-year-old man dealin' with feelings in a way that would make his songwriting idols Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt proud. Matteoli's main talent, as both Weary Boy and solo dude, is in seeing the songs in everyday life and finding the music that matches the emotions. His kid sister playing in the backyard was the inspiration for "Jumpin' Jolie," for instance. You can practically hear a bouncing trampoline in the infectious rhythm.

A standout cut on the solo album, "What To Do," also elevates simplicity to sacrament. "Do I love you/ Can I be a man," he sings into the manipulative eyes of love, while the engaging melody suggests that commitment isn't the worst thing in the world. If there's a theme to "Hard Luck Hittin,' " it's trying to decide what's worth standing for and what needs to go. It's a personal record that tramps on universal terrain, like on a title track that seems, at first, to be about being poor and famous — "I've got holes in my pocket, but I walk like a rock star" — but expands the scope to convey an uneasiness about a horizon filled with hard knocks in waiting.

Matteoli flaps his weary wings all over "Hard Luck Hittin,' " giving flight to his introspection with a tuneful delivery and the pure instincts of a true artist. And "Jumpin' Jolie" cements the Weary Boys as one of the hardest-thinking roots party bands out there.

By Michael Corcoran, June 30, 2006 - The Austin American-Statesman

"CD Review - Hard Luck Hittin'"

I've been waiting a long time for this record to be released. I am not disappointed. Mario Matteoli, best known as the lead singer of The Weary Boys, has managed to put together 9 fantastic songs on this album, which is his first solo-album. Opening track "Come and Be With Me" will get your attention right away. A great song to start the record off with. It's followed by "What to Do", a great tune with more of a country-feel to it. I love it all. The title-track is one of the best songs I've heard in a long while. Matteoli's voice is fantastic on this songs. You got to hear it. At times reminds me a little bit of Will Oldham (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Palace Music). Not a bad thing.

"United Nations" is definitely the most up-tempo song and my favorite one on the record. The piano brings a great sound to a song which sticks to your brain for hours after you listen to it. I was wondering if Matteoli would sound good without The Weary Boys. I now know that he does. I got this record three days ago and I've listened through it about 30 times already. This will be played a lot! Hope to hear more stuff from Mario Matteoli soon!

June 2006 - Mutiny Designs

"Weary Boys Lead Singer Tries Luck With Solo Album"

Emblazoned on Austin musician Mario Matteoli's left forearm is a tattoo that reads, "Stay Country."

"I thought that it would be a good reminder for me in my music career to try and always keep it at least a little country," Matteoli said of the tattoo.

Although the tattoo is not encapsulated between quotes, it's taken from Country Chris, the self-titled "World's Biggest Willie Nelson Fan," who signs all of his letters "Stay Country." Country Chris was one of the inspirations for Matteoli's Austin-based band the Weary Boys, who convinced fiddle player Brian Salvi during a trip to Germany to come to Texas and start a band.

Matteoli's first solo outing, Hard Luck Hittin', is a collection of songs written over the last three years. The lead singer for the Weary Boys draws inspiration for his album's raw sound from two of the greats, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams. The tracks were mostly cut live, acoustic, bare-bones and on a budget, hearkening back to an earlier era of four-tracks and one-room studios.

There are no frills on the album, just lyrics trying to be sincere and true. There are also no fiddles or steel guitars, very little twang and no mention of jails, trucks or trains. However, there are more than a few hard times and several songs which could inspire one to drink.
Matteoli approaches his marketing in the same down-to-earth fashion. He manages everything himself and has no desire to book a solo tour. His sights are set on a few in-town shows, including solo gigs at Waterloo Records and the Continental Club on Friday and at the Hole in the Wall on Aug. 2, 16 and 23. For this one, Matteoli is staying close to home.

As far as the Weary Boys are concerned, Matteoli has no idea what the other members in the band think.

"We really haven't talked about it," he said. "They know I'm doing it. I hope it's not the case that they're so pissed off about it that they won't say anything to me."

But it's clear that this album is not a move away from the up-tempo country outfit; it's just something different. It's a little slower-paced and a few steps away from the hustle and bustle. For the moment, the Weary Boys are still slated to fire up the Continental Club on Aug. 4.

"I had songs which don't work with a fast country band, and I figured it was time to get off my ass and get a record out," Matteoli said.

Is Mario Matteoli staying country? While no one can satisfy all of the differing definitions, it seems like he is. Even if the album sounds a little more like early Bob Dylan than Hank Williams or Conway Twitty, there's more to being country than just the sound. And his dedication of the album to "Ma and Pa" just puts the suds on the beer and the chicken-fried on the steak.

By — Justin Patch - July 27, 2006 - The Daily Texan

"Austinist Previews Austin City Limits:...Mario Matteoli"

No, Mario Matteoli is not, as his name suggests, an Italian shoe designer. He's actually a California native, Austin resident, and folk/country singer-songwriter. His album Hard Luck Hittin' combines elements of turn of the century (20th century, that is) folk, jazz, steel guitar-style country, and even ragtime. It's almost as though the 25-year-old intentionally created an album absolutely perfect for Austin City Limits festival: accessible, easily enjoyable, but layered with a motley mix of feeling and soul.

August 2, 2007 - Austinist


Hard Luck Hittin'
June 2006



Mario Matteoli was born and raised in Eureka, California. He started playing guitar at age 14, listening to the likes of Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, and Clarence White. After playing in various bluegrass and rock and roll bands and a brief stint at the local university, Matteoli packed his bags with buddies Brian Salvi and Darren Hoff and moved to Austin, Texas to form the premier touring act, The Weary Boys. For the last six years his primary focus has been writing songs, singing and playing lead guitar for the band. The Weary Boys produced six albums, the majority of the songs written by Matteoli. Matteoli self-released his first solo album, Hard Luck Hittin' in June 2006. Hard Luck was well received by fans and critics alike. Some likened the album to the "acoustic solitude of Neil Young or the depressed world spun by Townes Van Zandt," while others simply described it as "fantastic." Matteoli graced the BMI stage at the most recent Austin City Limits Festival and has opened for ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Leon Russell and Southern Culture on the Skids. He is a favorite in and around Austin either as a solo act, or as a full rock show with a backup band made up of some of the best players around, including Matt Hubbard, Jeff Johnston, and members of Louisiana's Red Stick Ramblers. The Weary Boys went their separate ways and Mario has been on his own since January 2007. He's now busy working on his second album.